Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From One Cook to Another

Earlier this year, I started a series of posts on family heirlooms that I have in my home. I'll take up the series again here with a visit to my little antique cookbook collection. It is a small collection of five but all the important elder ladies in my life, present and past, are represented by this collection.

Starting from the left, is the Culinary Arts Institute (Chicago) Encyclopedic Cookbook. This cookbook belonged to my maternal grandmother, Oma. It's a hefty volume that begins with this inner cover page:

Interestingly, the first copyright date in this book is 1940, just shortly after the 1939 release of The Wizard of Oz.  I wonder where they got their idea for this page?

I think the publishers may have borrowed another idea from The Gales of Kansas: the cellar. This cookbook goes beyond cooking to food storage and actually has blueprints for building an underground root cellar.

I think someone's gingham dress might get a wee bit dirty digging a cellar. For the record, Oma never built a root cellar as far as I know.

The next cookbook also belonged to Oma and was given to her by her mother. It is the Household Search Light Recipe Book published by The Household Magazine in 1941.

The book's foreword states that the
"Household Searchlight is a service station conducted for the readers of The Household Magazine. In this seven room house lives a family of specialists whose entire time is spent in working out the problems of homemaking common to every woman who finds herself responsible for the management of a home and the care of children."
Sort of a think-tank for homemakers. That's what I envision work life at Real Simple or in the Martha Stewart empire is like.

The best thing I found in this book was the answer to "What is hassenpfeffer?" And further, how to serve it.

I always thought hassenpfeffer was an insulting euphemism that Yosemite Sam used on Bugs Bunny to keep the cartoons clean. But I was wrong; it's rabbit stew. Now, I can't decide if I should serve hassenpfeffer or fried squirrel for Memorial Day dinner. What do you think?

The center book in the collection belongs to my mother-in-law. She gave it to me recently and I was so happy to put it with my others. The Better Homes and Gardens New CookBook is probably the most recognized cookbook cover ever. Most women doing any sort of cooking in the '50s and '60s had a copy. This copy shows original copyright dates of 1953 and again in 1962. I also got a bonus in this book in the form of several old notes and recipes handwritten by my MIL.

The BHaG CookBook has tons of color pictures and everything looks delicious. My favorite picture is this one in the "Special Helps" chapter showing the "efficient kitchen."  I love the rotisserie right there in the kitchen.

The next cookbook is my mother's "The Spice Cook Book". It's the youngest being copyrighted in 1964. My mother must have been going through a phase when she purchase this book. I equate it to my own phase when I purchased my "Glorious One-Pot Meals" cookbook. Both of us must have been searching for something that was missing at those points in our lives. (Am I reading too much into this?)

Anyway, the book did give me further insight into my mother. This totally explains her dill pickle phase.

I would just like to know whose evil eyes she was averting...

And finally, the must have "Joy of Cooking" belonged also to my mother. She got her copy in 1956. It is a nice comprehensive cookbook but the thing that makes this one valuable is not its age or the book itself. The value of this book lies in what is taped inside. The original copy and only know written form of a valued family recipe was carefully taped to the inside cover of this cookbook.

The recipe is my paternal grandmother's recipe for Lentil Soup. The copy seen here was from a typed letter sent from GranMaggie in Belleville, Illinois to my mother in Frankfurt, Germany sometime around 1957. I love the conversational tone of this recipe.

You must know that I am taking quite the risk by divulging the whereabouts of this recipe as certain members of my family may feel that they would be the better custodian of this family jewel. But alas, I have it. And I can cook the authentic family Lentil Soup anytime I want.

Bon Appetit!

Eight is Great!

A few weeks back my baby turned eight. It can't be. But it is. Worse yet, his brother is eleven. But that's another post. I've talked before about the sunshine that is my baby. He's gained a few pounds since that original post but his force is still the same. And there is a bit of eight year old mischevious boy mixed in too.

His birthday celebration was a small affair with only a few friends and his brother attending. We went to a local theater and got celebrity treatment. First, the birthday boy got to start the film by pushing THE button in the projectionist's booth.

Then, we watched the movie from a private lofty room high above the rest of the theatre seating. The private box is soundproof making the movie experience for the commoners down below what it should be: one where the group of prepubescent boys are seen but not heard.

As celebrities (otherwise known as the people who paid extra to see the movie), we brought in our own food  - pizza, juice and our candy of choice. There was even a waitress who kept the boys' plates full of pizza and the candy and juice flowing freely. We didn't have to pay extra for the waitress because I was the waitress. So really, it was just like being at home for all of us. Ahem.

The after-the-movie-party was back at our house where the boys did what boys do. Made noise, played video games, wrestled, made more noise.

And of course there was cake.

The next day my baby said to me, "You throw the best parties Mom. Thanks!"
To which, I melted.

Eight is great!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Fragments - Spring Edition

Thankfully Spring is finally here. Unfortunately, it has brought lots of rain.

This baseball season we've had more rained out practices and games than ones that have actually occurred. But there have been enough sunny days for me to get a few pictures. Check the focus on the ball as the runner on first advances.

Have you ever seen a cuter baseball player?

I didn't think so.

Spring is also time for band concerts.

So serious. And handsome too.

Spring is also time for my azaleas to show off.

Reminds me of Atlanta.

Yay Spring!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Down By the Lazy River

I haven't been able to blog consistently in the recent weeks. There has been so much real live stuff going on that I can't really find the time to b-log it all down. I am tempted to do one big post that has little bits of this, pictures of that and a complete summary of all events of late. I would then be fully caught up and hopefully wouldn't let such a backblog occur again. But one combined post wouldn't do any of the fun stuff justice. So I'll just live with my backblog and hope to chip away at it before the upcoming weeks (which look just as busy as the past weeks) overtake me. At which point, I will give up and you will likely see a compilation post.

One of the fun things that happened recently was that Bo Weevil performed at the Shenandoah River Songfest.

As you can see, the festival literally is on the river for which it is named. You probably haven't heard of the SRSF but it has been around for eight years. One of the main reasons you may not have heard of it is because it is a private, by invitation only event. Both the performers and the guests are invited. You have to know the lovely hosts or at least have a recommendation from someone within the circle of trust to come to the festival. That may sound a bit highfalutin for an outdoor concert, but it's not; it makes sense. The festival is hosted by some gracious folks on their private riverfront property near Luray, Virginia. They invite their friends and friends of their friends and keep it manageable in size and respect for the property. By my quick visual estimate, there were around 70 people at the event this year. A good sized group for a party in your backyard.

But the SRSF is not just a backyard party. It is a well-run outdoor concert with a most appreciative audience. Everyone is there to hear the music. They bring their comfy camp chairs, upscale picnic fare and beverages of choice to listen to 6 hours of scheduled music starting around noon. And then many stick around for the unscheduled music jam that begins after dinner.

This was Bo's first appearance at the SRSF via an invitation from Pops Walker who we had met at a house concert last fall. All the other performers were returning acts to the festival.  Here's a visual listing of the performers' roster. Pops Walker and Kipyn Martin performed both separately and together. Pops is a seasoned bluesman. Kipyn is a songbird. She was also at the house concert we went to last fall. And she blew me away with her voice again at the SRFS.

Also on the roster was Chuck E. Costa, the current Connecticut State Troubadour.

And Lara Herscovitch, the former Connecticut State Troubadour.

I didn't know there was such a thing as a state troubadour in Connecticut or elsewhere for that matter. But after hearing Chuck & Lara, I can understand why they would be named as such.

The SRSF is a family-friendly event and just to prove it, one of the acts was the highly entertaining father and son duo,

Zippy Jones added a retro feel to the event with her vocal and guitar stylings that conjured the female singers of the 1930s.I wish Zippy had a website I could direct you to.

And of course, Bo Weevil was there burning up the frets with his finger-picking style.

And his twist on ragtime.

He was well-received as the newcomer to the festival. Maybe we'll all be back next year.

Funny footnote: The title of this post popped in to my head and I knew it was a song lyric from my past. But I couldn't place it. So I Googled it and was very surprised at the source of this lyric. Funny what we carry around in our long-term memory.